How To Prepare
Before the X-ray test, tell your doctor if you are or might be pregnant. Pregnancy and the risk of radiation exposure to your unborn baby (fetus) must be considered. The risk of damage from the X-rays is usually very low compared with the potential benefits of the test. If a facial X-ray is absolutely necessary, a lead apron will be placed over your abdomen to shield your baby from exposure to the X-rays.
Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results will mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill out the medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).
You don't need to do anything else before you have this test.
How It Is Done
A facial X-ray is taken by a radiology technologist. The X-ray pictures are usually read by a doctor who specializes in interpreting X-rays (radiologist), but other doctors may also review the films.
You will need to remove any jewelry that may be in the way of the X-ray picture. You will also need to remove glasses or dentures.
You may be asked to lie on an X-ray table or sit in a chair. Several views (a series) of X-ray pictures are needed for clear pictures of the face. Your head may need to be repositioned for each view. You should hold your head completely still while the pictures are being taken. A padded brace, foam pads, a headband, or sandbags may be used to hold your head in place while the pictures are taken.
If pictures of the orbital cavities or sinuses are needed, you will usually sit up while they are taken. A padded brace may be used to hold your head still while the pictures are taken.
Facial X-rays usually take about 10 to 20 minutes. You will wait about 5 minutes until the X-rays are processed in case repeat pictures need to be taken. In some clinics and hospitals, X-ray pictures can be shown immediately on a computer screen (digitally).